| The Up & Down Grizzly
Grizzly Peak: 13,477
Route: East Ridge then North Ridge from Loveland Pass
Climb date: Friday, December 18, 2009
Start Time: 7:20am
End Time: 1:45pm
Total Time: 6:15 (total hiking/summit time)
Trip Length: 5.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,700 feet (according to Sam's GPS...but I don't think it was that much.)
Climbers: globreal (Britt), paulperea (Paul), WIclimber (Leslie), castricone7 (Pete), geno71 (Sam), TylerStorm (Tyler), Jeff & Brian.
I talked with paulperea mid-week who actually had told me he was going to climb Grizzly Peak on Friday. It just so happened that on Thursday I had finished a big project with my work. So, to celebrate I decided to join Paul on this 13er. geno71 (Sam) actually started the thread on 14ers, "Climb this Friday?" which got several of us linked up to go do this. And when we were all finally on the trail we ended up with 8 people. Not bad for a week day.
I had talked with weschun the night before, who had climbed Grizzly on Thursday, the day before us. He said that he had solid 25 mph winds and visibility of only 50 feet due to the blowing snow. Argh! Not what I wanted to hear. When we arrived at the parking lot up at Loveland Pass (11,990) it was looking like we could be in for similar conditions.
photo by Sam
The point forecast for the summit of Torrey's, our neighbor peak just about a mile and a half to the south, was to be between 2˙-14˙ which had the to potential to be pretty cold with the winds. This is WIclimber (Leslie) heading out and up the east ridge. This part of the hike was an easy Class 1 climb. And in fact, it's not really steep enough to generate a lot of body heat. So, I didn't warm up to quickly and was wondering if my toes were going to stay cold all day.
photo by Sam
Up on the top of the ridge, we turned right (south) to follow the north-south running ridgeline which would take us over to Grizzly. The wind was blowing and causing the hazy skies. Now, viewing this section of the ridge, it looks really easy doesn't it?
photo by Sam
Looking back to the north, the skies were clearing as we descended one of the three sub-summits. The downhill sections went fast and came back to get us later in the day.
This is castricone7 (Pete) striking his "to the summit" pose! That's Torrey's (14,257) upper left and Grizzly (our goal) upper right.
Grizzly here, sitting beneath the sun isn't a cake-walk to get to, as there are three of these false summits before you get there. One of them is Cupid, another 13er at 13,117 feet. So, as it turns out what I thought was going to be an easy ridge walk, really had a lot of up and down I wasn't expecting.
In fact, once we got to the last saddle before heading up to Grizzly, I was surprised at how daunting Grizzly's final pitch looked. Photos, not being 3-D, flatten out mountains. So it's hard to tell, but it really looked steep standing below it. And there is some actual scrambling during this last section.
While it was quite the heat generator and lung burner climbing this last section. We all had to stop several times to catch our breath. However, it didn't take to terribly long to finally reach the summit. It was 10:30am when we finally got there. So it took just over 3 hours from parking lot to summit.
photo by Sam
Everybody made it to the top and earned the right to be in the summit group shot. That's Torrey's behind us upper left, and Grays Peak (14,270) upper right.
Looking north-east is Baker Mnt. (12,397) which stands above Grizzly Gulch. And this view shows how it turned out to be quite a nice day!
And the view south-west shows there was still some high clouds and low clouds in that direction, which made for some neat looking photos.
After almost 40 minutes enjoying the summit, drinking hot chocolate, and eating some lunch, Six of the eight of us started heading down. Tyler and Brian headed off for Torrey's. That's right! They went on for another summit over 3 more miles RT and 2,400 more feet of elevation gain! I thought they were nuts….I guess it's because I'm almost 50 and they are young bucks in their prime. If you look close, you can see 3 others behind me coming down the trail.
photo by Sam
A little mother-nature, mountain magic….
Wind-blown, snow patterns.
Surfs up... Catch the wave!
This is what I was talking about the up and down. After climbing down from Grizzly, across a saddle, then back up to another summit, and now down again. The next photo will be looking up from the bottom of the saddle you see in this photo below the four down climbing.
Here we go….back up again! You can see the wind blown west facing slopes, and the snow loaded and corniced east facing slopes.
Once we got back to the point we would turn west and head down the east-west ridgeline, we all stopped for a short break and everyone regrouped. You can see Hwy 6 "snaking" below. That's Keystone ski area above the distant ridge and then way off in the distance is Breckenridge.
And then looking more to the left (south-west) is Arapahoe Basin ski area.
We made it back to the Loveland Pass parking lot at 1:45pm, making it a 6 ¼ hour trek. All-in-all the weather was quite wonderful with very mild winds and often no winds. In fact, sitting on the summit with the sun shining down on us, it wasn't uncomfortable at all. It was a real blessing to have a day like this in December. This is the view from the parking lot, looking toward Grizzly. Grizzly is the pointy dark peak in the upper right. We hiked the long ridge from left to right (north-south) over Cupid, the big gentle peak, and then down over those bumps before the steep climb up Grizzly. So to wrap it up, I like to say, thank you God, for your majestic Colorado back country, and for one more safe climb.
P.S. Tyler and Brian made it back to the cars at 8:00pm. Since, the sun sets this time of year at 4:30pm, that made for 13 hours on the trail and 3 ½ hours hiking in the dark! I haven't had a chance to talk with either of them to hear how they faired. But I was relieved to hear that my prayers were answered and that they made it out safely. Good job Tyler and Brian!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):